They have been dubbed “beg-packers” — shameless Western backpackers begging in the streets of South-East Asia.
Oh, by the way you think these foreigners are begging for food or medicine? You are wrong! They are actually begging to fund their travel! Yes you read that right.
Shocking pictures have emerged online of young, penniless travellers sitting on the sides of roads in places such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore, with signs asking locals to help finance their travels.
Some have been seen selling small items, such as postcards, for fast cash, while others have busked using electric instruments and impressive amplifiers.
In one photo, shared on Twitter, a couple can be seen using an expensive DSLR camera to prop up a sign reading: “Support our trip”.
It’s a bizarre trend among some backpackers, considering in some poorer locations globetrotting trips may be considered a luxury. And locals have reacted angrily to the rise of the beg-packer. In Singapore, for instance, visitors are only allowed to busk if they have a work visa.
Singapore woman Maisarah Abu Samah captured images of some of the begging backpackers and shared them on Twitter. Alongside one photo, of a young man and woman selling their holiday snaps as postcards, she wrote: “WHAT THE HECK???”.
“It was the first time I’ve seen something like that and it stopped me in my tracks,” she said.
“First of all, you don’t see many people selling knick-knacks or playing music in the street in Singapore because there are strict rules governing these activities.
“I’ve also never seen white people doing that.”, she added.
Maisarah said she found the trend “strange”, not least because people who do beg in the streets generally do so for survival.
According to her, usually people beg in order to buy food, pay their children’s school fees or pay off debts. But not in order to do something seen as a luxury.
Another witness, known as Solo Traveller on Twitter, also captured images of the western beggars.
One picture of a couple selling postcards was captioned: “Poor foreigners, only in Bangkok.
Another read: “Are you loser? Don’t know what to do in life? Go to #Bangkok #Thailand. Start teaching, blogging or beg on the road.”
It’s not the first time privileged travellers have asked others to foot the bill for their travels! It has been happening online too, on crowdsourcing sites such as Pozible, Indiegogo and Kickstarter.